The Trump campaign is using tips from the Trump University playbook to scam 'suckers' for money: report
Supporters of Donald Trump at rally (Photo: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock)

According to an analysis provided to the Daily Beast, a review of every email sent out by Donald Trump's 2020 campaign shows a pattern of troubling similarities to how the president ran his Trump University scam that led to lawsuits and restitution.


Identifying themself as a former reporter, the anonymous @TrumpEmail explained they had been the recipient of over 2,000 emails from the president's campaign and was at first amused by "hyperbolic" subject lines similar to "Radical Democrats HATE me and they HATE YOU,” before noting how insidious they were and that the president was treating his fans like "suckers."

With that in mind, the author documented seven categories to describe the pitches for cash (Exclusivity, Time-sensitivity, Scarcity, Shaming, Trump knows who you are, Community and Matchy-matchy) to break them down before submitting them to Jennifer Mercieca, associate professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University, who has written a book about the president's use of rhetoric, and who spotted a pattern.

“I’ve been struck by how his fundraising techniques match his Trump U playbooks,” she explained. “It's all about activating outrage to motivate sales (donations), which is typical of his Twitter feed.”

To make the case, the report links a campaign pitch reading, "President Trump was SO impressed by your dedication to our movement that he unlocked an EXCLUSIVE 500%-MATCH just for YOU," and "CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE THE TRUMP PATRIOT OF THE WEEK!" with instructions in the Trump U playbook that explained to school counselors, "Substitute the words 'thank you' with 'congratulations'." 

As the author explained, "The dumbest of the 'Exclusivity' emails (aka my absolute favorite) is the Trump 100 Club. The premise is that YOU have been picked specifically by President Trump as one of only 100 'Patriots”'in the entire country who have been invited to join a super-secret club."

 Continuing in that vein, the author points to hints that time is running out, as recommended as a tool for Trump University counselors to rope in "students," with the playbook stating, "Urgency is proportional to pain. Problems are like health. The more a problem hurts now, the more the need for a solution now, which lines up with a Trump 2020 email pitch that states, "This one-time offer is only available until 11:59 PM TONIGHT. After that, your invitation to join will permanently EXPIRE.” 

Similarly Trump campaign e-mails often have a subject line reading, "I noticed..." which implies familiarity with the recipient similar to the Trump University playbook suggestion: "The words 'I noticed' have a personal subconscious effect to them that they stood out in the crowd, that they are attractive or charismatic or that they impressive to you."

Having made the seven-point case, the author added that, not only is the Trump campaign using sketchy tactics to siphon off cash from admirers of the president, similar to how Trump University did before it was shut down, but it also treats his fans with contempt and that it had been noticed.

"The level of disdain the Trump campaign shows for its own supporters is almost shocking for those who aren’t used to reading these emails. And it has had repercussions: some of Trump’s prominent supporters have been vocal about having their intelligence insulted," the author concluded.

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